My husband and I recently visited Shipshewanna, Indiana, to experience an Amish community. The calmer pace of life and the cooler weather were a respite for us from our life in Houston with its frantic pace and hot, humid weather. Their pace of life, value of simplicity, and commitment to living our their faith in a countercultural way really made me think about how we might better live out our beliefs among our community. Here's a bit of what I learned.
The most serious injury I ever had playing soccer was momentary, but it still scared me to death. While I never lost consciousness, I lost my vision for about two minutes. Before that, I had approached my health with the cavalier nature of a teenager. Unfortunately, many of us make the same mistake. We think we’re physically, emotionally, and spiritually healthy until an event happens that gets our attention—until we get blindsided by a different reality. What can we do to prevent that life-altering event?
Although it's long passed, I want to share with you a practice my husband and I use on Good Friday to deepen our observance of the day. We call it “Go Silent; Go Dark.” It is especially meaningful on the day that we remember the crucifixion of Christ, but it is also a practice that can be implemented at any time of the year to slow your life down, heighten your focus on spiritual things, and increase your openness to the nudgings of the Holy Spirit.
This season of my life has been particularly straining. All good things, but good things still take their emotional toll. Ministry requires pastors who truly love their congregation, feel what they feel, hurt when they hurt, and grow weary when they grow weary.
My point here is not to commiserate. The spiritual oversight of souls is tough work, and those of us in ministry aspire to that work. Instead, I simply want to issue a plea: Pastor, seek respite. Use the resources available to you for the good of your ministry, your family, and your soul.
If you've ever tried it, you likely already know about the benefits of journaling. Every day, we have these experiences with potential for strengthening our walk with God. However, we're often too close to the experiences to process their impact. Capturing these lessons and reflections on paper creates a sort of snapshot allowing us to explore how God is at work.
Even if you’ve never practiced journaling for spiritual reflection before, we've got a few prompts to help you get there.